Importance of Grade Point Average (GPA) for admission to Master’s programs

The importance of the GPA for admission to graduate schools in the US is a common matter we all wonder about. One of the biggest concerns and worries of my friends who contact me via social media and e-mail is their low-grade point average. In general, the questions I have received are as follows;

  • What should be the minimum GPA for graduate schools?
  • Is the GPA important?
  • Is it possible to get admitted to a graduate school with a low GPA?


Low GPA and thinking about lowering the motivation to apply to graduate schools, and even dispel the idea of applying to graduate schools. I hope that after reading this article, you will be able to find answers to the questions you may have in your mind.

Let’s start,

You are absolutely right! Generally speaking, due to the structure of the education system in the rest of the world, it is not possible to evaluate how the GPA is given since there are no common standards for assessing students’ success.  We may face problems with GPA because lecturers assess students’ success based on their personal views or many other unstandardized factors. I think there are a few very important points that we need to address here.


First of all, I am going to talk about the importance of your GPA in the applications to graduate schools in the US.

Admission to graduate schools Requirements and their Importance

The GPA is one of the least three important components in the importance list of committee members who will evaluate your application.


The importance list of the committee is as follows;

1- Portfolio

2- Statement of Purpose

3- Reference Letter

4- CV – Resume

5- Transcript – Grade Point Average, Academic Achievement, Minor.

6- GRE


You can find the general description and evaluation of the mentioned items above in the blog article in my previous articles by clicking the link below.

How do I prepare for applying to a Master of Architecture in the US? What are the required documents?

As we have discussed above, there are 4 items you need to worry about, work hard and develop, that have a high priority than your GPA.

For this reason, we should get rid of worrying about the GPA as soon as possible and focus on the portfolio, statement of purpose, and letter of recommendation by spending and harmonizing our actual energy on these inter-connected items. Below you will find links to article posts where you can find detailed information on how to start this process.

How to prepare a successful portfolio?

How to write a statement of purpose to get admission to the Master of Architecture in the US?

How to write a letter of recommendation?

So, let’s continue,

As you see, the GPA of the application to graduate schools in the US is not thought as important as other application documents. With a strong portfolio, statement of purpose, letter of recommendation cv, etc. a graduate candidate with a 2.7 GPA will get admission, while a 3.4 GPA candidate may not. In the admission process, the committee considers how you can contribute to the department, not what they give you. While this is not true in undergraduate education, it is completely reversed in graduate education.

The committee is looking for students who are talented, creative, and can think from different angles and express themselves. What does having a high GPA contribute to graduate school?   I think we should think about this question a little bit. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should completely ignore our GPA. Our GPA is a part of our graduate applications and it is a plus for us like all other items. Thus, it is absolutely of great importance. However, if the items listed above are strong, we will be able to eliminate anxiety related to the GPA.

If we have a very strong portfolio, and statement of purpose, and both are supported by a strong and interconnected recommendation letter and CV, you can make sure to be ahead of many other candidates.

Please keep in mind that you don’t need to write down your GPA in the middle of a white paper with capital letters and do not add it to your application file.

Our GPA is part of our “Transcript”, in the graduate school application. So at this point, the GPA is not the only thing that committee members will consider. In addition to your GPA, your transcript displays a variety of items, such as academic progress, any lateral branches you have completed, and various elective courses you have taken outside your undergraduate curriculum.

Therefore, it would be a good idea to stop worrying about your GPA and focus on developing yourself in different ways during your undergraduate studies.

Over the years, I have had the chance to talk to people on the admission committees and reviewed many portfolios. There are some important points I have heard from these people. People on the admissions committee are more interested in the way how you present these projects in your portfolio than the contents of the projects in your portfolio. They look at the way you document projects, the ability to present projects in harmony, and the variety of methods you use in this presentation.


Portfolio layout ;

– Variety of graphics used in portfolio (model, hand drawing, graphics, technical drawings, etc.)

– The pictures you use are clean, understandable, and used for a reason.

– If the portfolio is requested as a book, the paper format in this book, binding format, etc.


It is clear that you are expected to present your projects in a very good way. The portfolio you have prepared should manifest against your low GPA and say; my low GPA does not show my talents, my personality as a designer, my potential, and my strengths. I should show that you gave your energy and time to strengthen your portfolio and this portfolio is the only thing that introduces yourself. At this point, you will present a strong statement of purpose and letters of recommendation that are in full harmony with your portfolio, so all of these will provide you the opportunity to reverse the negative ideas related to your GPA.


What are the ways to reduce the negative impact of a low GPA?

Graduate schools are looking for and admit candidates who suit their schools, educational systems, ideals, or schools, rather than students with a high GPA. At this point, you will have the chance to express why your GPA is low and if you follow and manage the right strategy and language, it will also be good for you.

Of course, this does not mean that you should use an explanation like “please forgive me I will not do it again!” It is important to understand that your transcript somehow shows the way of your academic background. If you have to explain why your GPA is low, it is not an appropriate way to say “ok if you give me that chance, I’m really going to work hard”, but the more appropriate one is to explain it with your strong application file.

Also a few tips:

It will create a very positive image if you contact key faculty or the committee members in the schools you are going to seek and apply to, and introduce yourself by email. Yes, there is a minimum GPA specified by universities and announced on their sites, but if you leave a positive impact on the committee members and program directors and they believe in you, they will definitely give you a chance and make your admission possible.

If you haven’t graduated yet and still have time and the credit to complete your degree (not important how many credits you need to take), the committee members will pay attention to your rising momentum rather than your overall performance if you manage to increase your low GPA.

Here it is very important to keep in mind that; If your GPA is lower than the minimum GPA score that the graduate schools require, seriously you need to make your other application elements stronger to fill in this gap.

To prepare a strong portfolio, statement of purpose and letter of recommendation, and other elements, to increase them to the highest possible level, we need to take this marathon. Of course, this is not a short run like a 100-meter run. If you don’t give sufficient importance and energy, it does not make sense to expect our dreams to come true.

I think the best time to start something is NOW!

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